After the US settlement announcement… How much is left of the West Bank?

Ramallah (QNN)- Palestinians have been witnessing the aftermaths of the American announcement, which deemed the West Bank settlements legal, especially that the Palestinians see the announcement as a proactive step to completely annex the West Bank.

In the last few years, the numbers of Israeli settlers in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank have unprecedentedly increased. There has been a marked rise in the numbers of illegal settlements and outposts as well.

Some estimates indicate that the number of illegal settlers in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank is approximately 800,000, most of them live in East Jerusalem. The Israelis have built 198 illegal settlements and 220 outposts in the West Bank and Jerusalem, while the number of Jewish settlers on the eastern side of the “green line” has increased from 110,000 in 1993 to 425,000.

In the same vein, Specialist and researcher in settlement affairs, Ziad Hantash, told QNN that the West Bank land that has been left for the Palestinians is not more than 15% at most of the total area of the West Bank, which definitely means that the Two-State solution is completely dead and impossible in the wake of the ongoing settlement expansion.

Hantsh explained that the “C” area, which is over 2000 square Kilometers and makes 61% of the West Bank, has been considered by the Israelis as a part of the occupation state. Israeli authorities have built 156 illegal settlements and 200 settlement outposts in the “C” area.

“The occupation state intends to use the American announcement to swallow more [Palestinian] land. Israeli leaders are very greedy and they intend to confiscate large areas of the West bank”, Hantash said.

The occupation state, according to Hantash, currently plans to annex the Jordan Valley and enforce the Israeli law on it in a scheme to annex the West bank.

“‘Israel’ does want to annex the West Bank but in stages”, Hantash explained. “At the beginning, they will enforce the [Israeli] law on the large settlement blocks, as there are 6 settlement blocks, which swallow 9% of the West Bank area”.

In the second stage, according to Hantash, the Israelis will turn the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba into a municipality and merge all the surrounding settlement outposts with it to enforce the Israeli law on them all.

Hantash noted as well that the Palestinians have been suffering from the aftermaths of the Israeli plans; being displaced and expelled through the Israeli policy of land theft and house demolition.

He also expected that the period ahead will see a rise in house demolitions, especially in the “C” area, where the Israelis refuse to provide house permissions for the Palestinians.

The Israelis have demolished over 35,000 houses in the West Bank and Jerusalem since 1967.

Meanwhile, according to the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, Israeli settlements cover 538,126 Dunums, which make 10% of the total area of the West Bank. There are also 1,650,376 Dunums , which have been confiscated by settlements, increasing the total confiscated area of the West Bank to 40%.

The Israeli settlement of Modi’in, which was built on the ruins of five Palestinian villages in Ramallah, is the largest with nearly 60,000 settlers living in it. The illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which is built on Palestinian lands in eastern Jerusalem, comes next with over 40,000 settlers living in it.

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